From: Jonathan Engle firstname.lastname@example.org [Note from his parents: Anyone can send him email through Dearelder.com for free while he's at the MTC. If sent before noon, he gets it the next day. Refer to his letter under "PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING."]
Sent: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 2:26 PM
Subject: Primero Correo Electronico- Benvinodo Familia!
Sent: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 2:26 PM
Subject: Primero Correo Electronico- Benvinodo Familia!
Oi todos! Hello everyone! I don't even know where to start. There's so much to say and so much that's happened. Disneyland definitely isn't the happiest place on Earth. It's a lie. The happiest place on Earth is the MTC. It's amazing. The cafeteria is free and all you can eat. Yeah....Essentially everything we do is some extension of study. God is here with his missionaries in a very literal sense and the power of the work is amazing. To explain my experience, let me share some experiences:
The second day we arrived, we had to teach our investigator, Jorge, entirely in Portuguese! Talk about humbling. Our very first class we started studying like animals because we had to teach an investigator the Gospel already! It's very difficult to work through a language barrier to communicate effectively and help him feel the spirit, but when we bore our testimonies, we felt the spirit very powerfully. It was funny because at the end of that lesson, I read the invitation for baptism from Preach My Gospel (Pregar Meu Envagelho), and he nodded his head and said "Sim" which means yes, which is all he ever does, so it was awkward ha.
This past Saturday, we had a teacher come in who served his mission in Teresina, Brasil. He talked about what it's like there tons, so we got to understand our mission very well. It was inspiring. He has a powerful testimony and I know he served a powerful mission which changed many people's lives. When he ended, he challenged us to do a Jejoua Inglessa, an English Fast, ASAP. I immediately stopped speaking English (my 3rd full day in the MTC), and spoke only Portuguese the rest of that night and the entire following day. Not a single word in English. My fellow District Missionary (WHO I LOVE WITH ALL MY HEART), had a real kick out of it, but I knew that if we walk by Faith, we can do anything. God's will is for us to learn the language. That's why he chose to send us to Brasil, because he knew we could. The fact that I already know what God's will is for me is exciting because when I align my will with his, I can work miracles, like what I experienced on Sunday. I didn't speak any English, and by the end of the day, I was fairly effectively communicating with all the other Elders who were simply speaking English. It has changed my life. That morning I had a meeting with the Branch Presidency and the other DLs etc. (I forgot to mention that I was called as the Branch Music Director on Friday! My 2nd full day! Anyway, during that meeting, still doing my English fast, one of the Elders said whenever his district does an English fast, they do a food fast as well, I had only had a sip of water that morning, so I did that too. I think that's the longest I've ever fasted and I honestly didn't think about it much except when for lunch on Sunday they had Chicken Cordon Bleu. GOD TRIES YOUR FAITH!! Anyway, the English and Food Fast has changed my life.
I humbly acknowledge that I probably speak Portuguese better than anyone else in our District, but it's through the Spirit of God that I'm able to do so. I've learned how to speak Portuguese in one week better than I ever did Spanish after 4 years of studying in High School.
A funny experience was when we taught Jorge yesterday, Monday. I was discussing with him about the Apostasy and trying to explain, but beforehand, my companion, Elder Phipps, and I, decided to focus on baptism and how it can bless his family's life. While discussing this, I told him in Portuguese to open to a passage in Pregar Meu Evangelho and find something about the Apostasy to help him understand, since he was confused why he needed to be baptized since he already had been in other churches. Immediately Elder Phipps hands him a passage about baptism, which he already emphasized that he understood. He got super confused! I face palmed super hard, with patience of course. It was hilarious afterwards.
Elder Phipps is my companion. He's the coolest Elder ever! He has British blood from Ozark, Alabama, and he's got the coolest accent, the best jokes, and a powerful testimony and spirit. I love him so much. He struggles with the language, which is understandable considering we've only started learning a bit less than a week ago, but holy cow does he work hard. He used to be a pretty crazy guy before his mission, but he's worked it all out and he would die for the Gospel if he had to. I'm so glad that our companionship is going so well. I really understand why God wants us going forth, two by two, into the world. That's a paraphrasing of somewhere in D&C, heh.
Our District is the greatest Brotherhood I've ever experienced. Elders Gwilliam and Christie are my roommates and they're Zone Leaders in Training. I'm so proud of them. Our room is the best. Our District has so many laughs it's crazy. It's almost too much. It's hard to keep our noise levels down in important areas (everywhere), and there are many times where we should stay focused, and the fact that we're already tied together in brotherhood (a very sugar-coated way of saying we laugh our heads off because we're hilarious, obviously) distracts from the spirit. Elder Tracey is our DL and I love his example. Our Branch Presidency is wonderful. There's too much to say so I must move on.
We had an AMAZING experience in choir singing the song, Where Can I Turn for Peace? It's the most beautiful arrangement and when you're a missionary that hymn changes from something somewhat comforting to absolutely inspiring and galvanizing and life-changing. Go read the lyrics and think of it from the mindset of a missionary. The person asking all the questions is the investigator and the replies are from the missionary. The investigator is asking some serious questions. Where can I turn for peace? Where is my solace? These are crucial important questions that people really do ask. We have the answers. COME UNTO CHRIST. It's beautiful. It brings tears to my eyes thinking about it.
I love the talk from a recent conference where he emphasized to ASK THE MISSIONARIES. Seriously it's true. We really do have God on our side in a special way that NO ONE ELSE has. The sheer fact that we've been ordained to this calling means our sole purpose in life is to share the gospel, but it's even better than that. I love the Missionary Purpose:
To invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel, through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.
Portuguese: Convidar as pessos a-achegarem-se a Cristo, a-judando-as receber o evangelho resterado, por meio da fé em Jesus Cristo e em Sua Expiação, do arrependimento, do baptsimo, de se receber o dom do Espirito Santo, e de perserverar, até of fim.
It's beautiful. It really does summarize our entire purpose, how to do it, what to do, and why, etc. It has infinite meaning.
Going to the temple as a missionary is amazing. Afterwards our whole District was hugging each other and we've had tons of spiritual discussions, etc. These Elders are my brothers.
I've seen tons of people I know from before my mission, such as Elders Cho, Ha, Twede, Eager, Tu'ua, and I saw Misael Lazaro working in the MTC Cafeteria. It was pretty great.
It's hilarious because I'm seriously losing my English in a way. I joke that for every part of Portuguese I learn, I lose two parts English. I'm okay with that. For two years I have no need for English. I acknowledge that my Emails are going to have terrible grammar and spelling, etc. because it's better to understand what I say than how you say it. That's what I've learned with Portuguese. I think right now I'm at Caveman status in Portuguese. I can communicate almost anything I need to, which is muito legal (super cool), but I have terrible grammar. I speak like a caveman. It's exhausting.
We're always tired. We have hardly any downtime at all, so it's constant GO GO GO. STUDY STUDY STUDY. GROW GROW GROW.
I am so inspired that I was called as the Branch Music Director. I essentially plan the hymns and who will do them for all of our Sunday meetings and I'm just kind of the go-to guy in our branch for music. I miss having more music in life with all my heart, so I almost burst into tears the moment we started rehearsing our choir. The director is the same man who directed the massive Missionary Broadcast Choir I sang in, so that was super cool. He's inspiring. He's the one who explained about the whole missionary mindset for Where Can I Turn For Peace?
***PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING***
You can use Dearelder.com for free while I'm in the MTC. You simply send it an email or something and I get it as a letter. If you send it before Noon then I get it that day. Please send me mail! I live in Provo still, so it's actually really hard to fight off homesickness. That's why I didn't want to go to the Provo MTC at all. The reason I've been able to make it a non-issue so far is by blocking out thoughts of family and friends from my mind and lean on the power of the spirit to keep me focused on the work. I don't mean I block you all out in a bad way, but whenever I reminisce on people or stories, I want to burst into tears almost instantly, or at least it makes it harder to work.
This being said, letters are the best thing ever. I promise you won't distract me from the work. I want letters really badly, so I'd love all I can get. I love you all and want to converse with you all, so please share this post on my blog (parents please!), and anyone else on any email list. Anyone can use Dearelder.com to message me any day you'd like and it only takes a few minutes. It's free!
Please send me Dearelders about the BYU Football games. I'd really like that. Elder Twede told me the other night about the BYU/Texas game, GO COUGARS!, but I'd like my own too.
I love you all. This Gospel is powerful and true. I love it with all my heart and I know that through faith we can do all things. I've already seen miracles while here in the MTC and I know you can see them in your own lives as your grow your faith and know that the Lord will help you if it is righteous. I'm in a constant state of being on the verge of tears because I feel the Spirit so strongly and I'm constantly receiving a powerful witness. The big powerful experiences stick out that much more because they have to be SUPER POWERFUL, to stand out from the rest of the time where we already feel the Spirit so powerfully! I love my God and my Savior Jesus Christ. I love praying and speaking in Portuguese. I don't waste time saying useless things. We should model our lives around this idea. Don't waste time with unimportant things. Fill your lives with what God wants you to and you will be powerful. My favorite scripture for this week is 2nd Nephi 31:13. In one small scripture, we understand, almost in its entirety, the way of Baptism. Com todo o Coraçao. With all your heart. Live your life that way. With all your heart, turn towards God. I love this Church and while it's absolutely exhausting to live at such a high level, I can't think of anything better. I understand why people say their missions were the best two years of their lives, because this past week has been the best week of my entire life. I bear testimony of this Church's divinity Em nome de Jesus Cristo. Amen.
P.S. Please write/email.
P.P.S. I'm only going to send handwritten letters to my parents at the moment (I might miss that this week because I didn't use time very well on my P-Day, SORRY!), but if you write me a handwritten letter, I promise to reply... I hope.
P.P.P.S. My P-Days are Tuesdays. On a side note, please don't stalk me while I'm at the MTC. Yes, I can see my house from our study classroom essentially, and I'm still in Provo... which is super weird... but please don't stalk me.) (THAT'S SPECIFICALLY AND MOST IMPORTANTLY TO YOU MOM.)